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December 31, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/31/2011

Not winning against Everton has become a bit of a habit for Sunderland. I don’t recall a win over them home and away over the past 10 years, ever since a 1-0 home win with a Claudio Reyna goal in December 2001.

The Lads lined up as follows: 20 Westwood, 02 Bardsley (Gardner 46), 05 Brown, 16 O'Shea, 19 Bramble (Colback 21), 06 Cattermole, 07 Larsson, 11 Richardson, 15 Vaughan (McClean 81), 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner. Good to see Catts keeping his place, but injury is still keeping Turner out of the team. The Merseysiders featured 24 Howard, 02 Hibbert, 03 Baines, 05 Heitinga, 06 Jagielka, 15 Distin, 18 Neville, 10 Drenthe (Gueye 75), 17 Cahill (McFadden 87), 21 Osman, 08 Saha (Vellios 84).

December 26, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/26/2011

Eventually a great win on away soil as the Black Cats attacked on their travels, taking the game to QPR.

We took the train to this game, then tube to Wood Lane, followed by a requisite burger at Westfield before entering the QPR ground at the Ellerslie Road stand, and took our seats. I could see little change in the ground since I was last there in 1999; the legroom was poor, but I feel compelled to mention that our comfort and satisfaction were not aided by a large squidgy turd on the cement under my younger son’s seat. We alerted the steward to this slimy piece of excrement 50 min before kick-off, but nothing happened, and we had to find a suitable use for a folded Evening Standard which did not even bother to preview the game…

December 21, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/21/2011

First of all, everybody agreed this was a good game – end to end, with great chances for both teams. Sunderland kept erstwhile captain Lee Cattermole on the bench, but featured Wickham and Sessegnon up front. Spurs are on an amazing home run, 6 wins with 2 goals conceded since that memorable 5-goal disaster versus Manchester City.

The Black Cats lined up as follows: 20 Westwood, 02 Bardsley (McClean 69), 05 Brown, 11 Richardson, 16 O'Shea, 19 Bramble, 07 Larsson, 14 Colback (Gardner 75), 15 Vaughan, 28 Sessegnon and 10 Wickham (Bendtner 46). Unused substitutes were 24 Carson, 06 Cattermole, 27 Elmohamady, 17 Ji Dong-Won.

Spurs were missing strikers but still had a lot of firepower, although Van der Vaart has been a bit quiet recently: 24 Friedel, 13 Gallas, 26 King, 28 Walker, 32 Assou-Ekotto, 07 Lennon (27), 08 Parker, 11 Van der Vaart (Rose 89), 14 Modric, 30 Sandro (Livermore 82), 10 Adebayor, with unused subs. 23 Cudicini, 19 Bassong, 21 Kranjcar, 29 Livermore, 40 Pienaar.

December 18, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/18/2011

Sunderland do not have a great record against Spurs at White Hart Lane, with just only one win in 20 visits since 1978 - but we have drawn there a lot, including last season, when Gyan starred in a gutsy 1-1 draw. 2 seasons ago we were robbed after a dubious penalty, and under Roy Keane we won there 2-1, after a terrific Kieran Richardson strike.

This is clutching at straws, but we won there 2-1 in the Milk (League) Cup in 1983 when Clive Walker starred, and I also recall a great late 1960s victory, 1-0 after a terrific own goal by Mike England...who else remembers the Welsh centre-back?

December 17, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/17/2011

A game that for much of the time looked like the 2011-model Sunderland – lots of territorial advantage, endeavour – huffing and puffing, but seemingly nobody to drive home that advantage – until the 84th minute…

Sunderland lined up as follows: 20 Westwood, 02 Bardsley, 05 Brown, 11 Richardson, 16 O'Shea, 19 Bramble, 07 Larsson, 14 Colback (McClean 76) 15 Vaughan, 28 Sessegnon, 10 Wickham (Ji Dong-Won 76). Subs 24 Carson, 12 Kilgallon, 18 Meyler, 23 McClean, 27 Elmohamady, 17 Ji Dong-Won, 31 Noble.

Great to see Connor Wickham back after his early doors knee problem and stretchering off at Old Trafford; happy to see it was not a serious injury. I saw him live against Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light and he had an almost complete striker’s game, a constant thorn in Villa’s side throughout, he contrived to score a great first goal for the club. There was also an incipient understanding emerging with Niklas Bendtner. Bramble is back, although a couple of the commentators I heard suggested that he had been putting on the meat a bit during his long lay-off; Titus, you will need to watch the turkey this year...

December 9, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/09/2011

Even Roy Keane is "walking his dog" these days.

Call it firing, dismissal, being terminated, the end of the road, permanently suspended, being “in transition”, or in the case of Hull’s Phil Brown, who was famously put on “gardening leave”, the relationship between a manager and his club Chairman/CEO, fans and players will almost always come to an end either peaceably or acrimoniously. Normally the latter, so well done to SAFC CEO Ellis Short for keeping a lid on things during the departure of Steve Bruce. He is now "spending more time with the family" - to use another euphemism.

December 5, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/05/2011

After a compelling performance, Sunderland ultimately came away empty-handed from Wolverhampton, who are becoming a bogey team. The Lads featured their all ex-Manchester Utd back four, and used Lee Cattermole as the holding midfielder, with Ji Dong-Won given a rare start alongside Niklas Bendtner. Larsson was making his 200th top-level English appearance. For Wolves, Jody Craddock returned against his old club, with the ex-Cambridge Peter Reid signing displacing £7 million man Roger Johnson.

• O'Neill, a great appointment!

Both these teams started the game on bad runs, we know how Sunderland capitulated against the Latics last week, and how the current poor run that led to Steve Bruce’s departure. A promising start has quickly morphed into a worrying slide; five points from 11 games is nowhere near good enough. Mick McCarthy was Sunderland manager between 2003-06, and he has his detractors at Molyneux, with critics wondering if he is the man to take the club further forward – the home side have been perpetual strugglers since they were promoted five years ago. He has done well to keep them up.

December 3, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 12/03/2011

Just as quickly as the axe fell on Steve Bruce, the management of Sunderland have taken decisive action, and made the move to bring on board an excellent new manager, who shares the fervour of the supporters in this most passionate of football areas. The Black Cats are a well run club with great support, excellent facilities and fantastic potential.

Lars Knutsen Lars Knutsen was born in Sunderland of Norwegian parents across the Wear from the SSOL back when shipbuilding not car manufacture was the city’s main industry. His first game was in 1968 and he has followed the Black Cats since then, with great memories of the 1973 FA Cup. He hopes the “yo-yo” days are over and defines supporting a team by whether the result affects your mood (but maybe not in the way portrayed in the book “Fever Pitch”!) so has been cheerful recently. He endured school in Newc**tle, has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Professorship at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and works in the Pharma industry as a consultant Medicinal Chemist.

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